Gemma's story

aaColchester Gemma Aylesbury visual merchandiser 140321

Working at Emmaus has been like a dream come true for me! I studied 3D design at university and then spent eight years working as a visual merchandiser for Fennicks  - a large department store.

It was a great job, but the freedom that working for Emmaus has given me is amazing in contrast. I love vintage and retro stuff, and I have a strong creative background, so having the opportunity to start from scratch and create my own Emmaus empire has been amazing.

I chose Orla Kieley wallpaper as it’s really bright and bold, and the companions and general manager helped me put up false walls so we could hang pictures and really make the most of the stock that we get in. I also strongly believe that a charity shop doesn’t have to look tatty or dirty and that just because things are second-hand that  have to be presented in a certain way.

I have had so many comments about how nice the shop looks now – and to be honest getting it ready was great fun for me. I’ve created a small children’s area so that people can come in and browse and have somewhere to keep their kids happy and I already have a lot of regulars, including a number of dealers who come up from London. I have also managed to recruit seven new volunteers since November, including my own mum, friends and cousins!  

Every day brings new challenges and new stock and I really enjoy working with companions and the people who come in often feel like friends rather than customers. I feel very lucky to be doing a job I love for such a worthwhile charity.